This month, your family is likely going to sit down for Thanksgiving and dig into a turkey. But whether it’s your first or fiftieth time roasting a bird, you need to make sure your preparing it right.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, to cook a turkey:
- Tuck wing tips under the shoulders of the bird for more even cooking. This is referred to as “akimbo.”
- Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
- If your roasting pan does not have a lid, you may place a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the turkey for the first 1 to 1 ½ hours. This allows for maximum heat circulation, keeps the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To prevent overbrowning, foil may also be placed over the turkey after it reaches the desired color.
- If using an oven-proof food thermometer, place it in the turkey at the start of the cooking cycle. It will allow you to check the internal temperature of the turkey while it is cooking. For turkey breasts, place thermometer in the thickest part. For whole turkeys, place in the thickest part of the inner thigh. Once the thigh has reached 165 °F, check the wing and the thickest part of the breast to ensure the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product.
After everyone’s full of turkey, it’s also important to store the leftovers correctly. Be sure to throw away any food left out for more than 2 hours. It can also help to divide the leftovers into smaller portions. Use any leftover turkey within 3 or 4 days. Any frozen turkey should be used within 2 to 6 months.
Cover your leftovers and rotate when reheating in the microwave. Make sure your food gets back up to 165 °F. If you reheat in the oven, make sure it’s preheated to at least 325 °F.